computers en-US Best Money Tips: The Technology Edition <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-the-technology-edition" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="office technology" title="office technology" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread's Best Money Tips Roundup! Today we are featuring some of the best articles from around the web about technology, ranging from apps to smartphones to green tech and more!</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="">Save Thousands by Cutting Dying Tech from Your Life</a> &mdash; Cutting your landline and ditching cable can help you save thousands. [Money Talks News]</p> <p><a href="">From Mobile Apps To Online Storage: 10 Techy Ways to Save Money</a> &mdash; Using TextFree can save you money on text messages while Skype can save you money on VoIP. [Learnvest]</p> <p><a href="">12 Online Tools to Organize Your Life This Month</a> &mdash; Remember the Milk and Hootsuite can help you keep your life organized. [PopSugar Smart Living]</p> <p><a href="">Top 10 Green Energy Technologies &amp; Solutions for Home Improvement</a> &mdash; If you want to update your home using green energy technologies, consider solar water heaters and double window panes. [Money Crashers]</p> <p><a href="">5 Surprising Ways Your Smartphone Can Save You Money</a> &mdash; Have you ever used your smartphone to help you pay your bills on time? [Living on the Cheap]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="">5 Ways Technology Will Change the Way You Travel</a> &mdash; Cars with wi-fi are now an option in certain brands of certain GMC, Cadillac, and Buick models. [Kiplinger]</p> <p><a href="">15 Helpful Apps No Single Lady Should Be Without</a> &mdash; AroundMe and Lumosity are a couple great apps every single lady should have. [Credit Sesame]</p> <p><a href="">10 Technologies Invented Less Than 10 Years Ago We Can't Imagine Going Without</a> &mdash; Can you imagine living without podcasts or Kindles? []</p> <p><a href="">Top 10 Tech Safety Tips for Parents of Tweens and Teens</a> &mdash; To keep your kids safe around technology, be aware of ALL the technology they are using. [Parenting Squad]</p> <p><a href="">5 Tips for Using Mobile Coupons</a> &mdash; When using mobile coupons, use an app that can apply multiple coupons at once. [Bargaineering]</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Best Money Tips: The Technology Edition" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Ashley Jacobs</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Technology apps best money tips cell phones computers laptops technology Mon, 21 Jul 2014 19:00:07 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 1147199 at Laser vs. Inkjet: Choosing the Wrong Printer Could Cost You <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/laser-vs-inkjet-choosing-the-wrong-printer-could-cost-you" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="printer" title="printer" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="145" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Costing more than luxury perfumes and high-end alcohol, printer ink is probably the most expensive liquid per volume that you buy. Consumers deride the high cost of printer ink yet accept it as a necessary evil. It seems as though we have no other choice but to plunk down big bucks on cartridges that seem to evaporate overnight, right? However, you'll be happy to know that with a little bit of research and some basic math skills, you can substantially decrease your printing costs by choosing the right printer for your needs. (See also: <a href="">11 Ways to Save Big on Ink</a>)</p> <p>First and foremost, there are two types of printers available to the average consumer &mdash; inkjet and laser. By recognizing and understanding the benefits and drawbacks of each type, you will be able to determine which printer will best suit you. Traditionally, inkjet printers have dominated the home printer market, while laser machines were associated with offices and businesses. The differences between the two are complex, however for the layperson they can be summarised in a few key points.</p> <h2>Functionality</h2> <p>Inkjets take the lead in versatility, as they are often &quot;multi-function&quot; machines that can copy, scan, and fax in addition to delivering quality color printing. Many inkjet printers on the market today have the entire kitchen sink thrown in them, offering wireless networking, document feeders, automatic double-sided printing, and mobile printing capabilities with <a href="">Apple AirPrint</a> and <a href="">Google Cloud</a> compatibility. In addition, inkjet printers are more likely to be compatible with various types of media including iron-on transfers, adhesive labels, and thicker paper.</p> <p>While laser printers are also available with a wide variety of features, inkjet machines are offered at a cheaper, more attractive price than comparable laser printers. However the initial high cost of lasers is usually offset by a cheaper running costs, detailed later in this article.</p> <h2>Color</h2> <p>Inkjet color printing is superior because of the viscous liquid ink used in image production. Not only are the colors more vibrant, but the Dots Per Inch (DPI) or resolution is much higher when compared to a laser printer. Because of this, inkjets are able to produce images with superior color blending. One caveat is that black text can be fuzzy due to the ink &quot;bleeding&quot; into the paper.</p> <p>Laser printers are known for crisp, perfect text production, which is why they are normally associated with monochrome (black &amp; white) printing. However, laser printers can be found with color printing capabilities. While satisfactory for text and basic graphics, laser color printing is grainy due to a lower DPI.</p> <h2>Running Costs</h2> <p>Since printers themselves are relatively affordable, the true cost of home printing comes from the operating cost. On average, laser printers have a lower cost per page than inkjet printers. The consumables in laser printers, called toners, have a much higher page yield than inkjet cartridges. These high yield toners, coupled with the lower DPI of laser printers, often equates to lower operating costs. Because of their efficiency, printer manufacturers know they will generate less profit from their consumables, and as a result the price of laser machines often increases significantly based on their available features.</p> <p>This doesn't mean that all inkjet printers are inefficient, in fact many &quot;office&quot; inkjet printers are quickly bridging the page yield gap, however they tend to be fewer and farther between. Unfortunately, the running cost of lasers and inkjets is not as cut and dry as it once was. This is why it is imperative to&hellip;</p> <h2>Do the Math</h2> <p>When shopping for a printer, most folks make the mistake of comparing the face value of ink cartridges, and many base their decisions on the perceived value of the ink. The old assumption that laser printers are cheaper to run than inkjets isn't always true, with some bargain basement lasers using toners that are just as expensive as the much maligned inkjets.</p> <p>With so many different printer models and cartridges it is nearly impossible to say what the &quot;average&quot; cost of printing with an inkjet or laser machine will be. Luckily, with some basic math skills you can get a pretty good estimate of the overall running cost of a machine. Not all printer cartridges have the same page yield, nor do they have the same price. In order to figure out the running cost of a printer one has to divide the cost of the cartridge by the estimated page yield. Most printer manufacturers like <a href="">HP</a> and <a href=";ref=van_cartrdige-info_2012-04-001">Epson</a> make these estimates available to consumers, however many people who deride their choice in printer often <a href="">fail to do the math</a> that is necessary to determine the printing per page cost.</p> <p>While determining the cost per page of your printer will certainly give you a better idea of the ongoing expenses you will incur over the lifespan of your printer, it is still <a href=",2817,2183959,00.asp">oversimplifying the method of determining the true cost</a>.</p> <h2>Don't Rule Out Buying Both</h2> <p>So you've figured out what your printing needs entail and you've made a shortlist. You've consulted the estimated page yields of the consumables and you're still on the fence. Unfortunately it is a scenario that many people face, making everything even more frustrating than it already is. While it may not seem entirely practical, investing in both an inkjet and a laser printer might actually make the most sense.</p> <p>If you need to produce high quality photos but you also need to print high volumes of text, no one machine is going to cut it. In order to get the best of both worlds without compromise, you should consider making space on your desk for both machines.</p> <p>Otherwise, decide what your primary use will be, and choose based on that.</p> <p>Having a printer in the home can be both a blessing and curse. You don't have to choose between the convenience of printing at home versus the potential cost of ink. Instead, take the time to ask yourself what the printer will be used for. There are numerous <a href="">websites</a> and <a href="">guides</a> that can help you navigate the staggering number of printer models available. By weighing the pros and cons of both inkjet and laser printers and doing a little number crunching, you can determine the balance of features and running cost that makes financial sense to you.</p> <p><em>Have you purchased a printer for your home or business lately? How did you choose?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Laser vs. Inkjet: Choosing the Wrong Printer Could Cost You" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Ryan Lynch</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Budgeting Shopping computers home office inkjet laser printers Fri, 20 Jun 2014 21:00:04 +0000 Ryan Lynch 1145229 at Make Your Computer Last (Almost) Forever With Some Simple Tricks <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/make-your-computer-last-almost-forever-with-some-simple-tricks" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="computer repair" title="computer repair" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There is a piece of electronics in my house that I couldn't do without. I need it for communication, research, entertainment, work, basic household functioning, our homeschool lessons, and to occasionally keep my kids' occupied while I make an important phone call or get dinner on the table. There's a good chance it is equally as important to you, too. (See also: <a href="">Why You Should Buy a Desktop Computer</a>)</p> <p>The computer has become one of our most needed and essential items in our homes and when it breaks or &mdash; even worse &mdash; dies for good, we are lost without it and forced into an expenditure that we may not be ready to make. Keeping your computer up and running for many years is vital for your productivity, your sanity, and your wallet.</p> <p>To keep it lasting forever, it is important to practice diligence with the protection, cleaning, maintenance, and care of your computer. Read on to learn all the ways you can do just that.</p> <h2>Protection</h2> <p>A good defense is the game to play when it comes to computer maintenance. Prevent problems from occurring in the first place with these protections in place.</p> <h3>Block Viruses</h3> <p>The first order of business upon opening your brand new computer is to install virus protection. An adequately protected computer will keep you from the loss of important files and personal data and will give you a smoothly functioning operating system. While a virus, malware, or spyware will probably not cause you the loss of your hard drive, it is best to have what is internally stored on your computer as safe as possible. Free virus protection can be downloaded from <a href="">Avast</a>, <a href="">AVG Free</a> or <a href="">Microsoft</a>.</p> <h3>Clear Space</h3> <p>While viruses, spyware, and malware can slow down your computer's system, files saved to the hard-drive can do the same thing. To keep you computer running smoothly, it is best to save files on an external hard-drive. These hard drives plug into your computer and are perfect for storing data that is taking up space within your computer. The more space available on your hard drive, the better it runs.</p> <h3>Safeguard Electronics</h3> <p>A rush of electrical current to your computer can burn the components and cause you to lose data, as well as the computer, so always plug it into a <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;node=761520&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=AYHZC3PBOB73ZSM5">surge protector</a>.</p> <h2>Cleaning</h2> <p>Like your home, car, or anything else you value, computers should be cleaned regularly to keep them from working harder than they need to. This can be as simple as wiping down surfaces or as complicated as taking your PC tower apart to do some internal clean up.</p> <h3>Monitor</h3> <p>Cleaning the monitor is a quick task that should be done weekly or as needed to keep oils and debris from breaking down the components. Using a special monitor cleaning product is usually not necessary, and LifeHacker actually suggests that <a href="">plain water is the best solution</a>. Be sure to use a scratch-free cloth made from microfiber or a clean T-shirt and have your monitor powered down before cleaning. Directly spraying the monitor is not recommended.</p> <h3>Keyboard</h3> <p>A dirty keyboard isn't just a health hazard, it can result in stuck keys or or completely dead keyboard. By unplugging the keyboard and turning it upside down, you can free any particularly loose materials right away. Blowing compressed air into the keyboard will clean out any debris that may be sticking to the keys. If you have a particularly sticky key (or when cleaning your trackpad), dip a cotton swab into rubbing alcohol and clean the area gently.</p> <h3>Fan</h3> <p>It is also essential to clean dust that collects on the fan and any other small crevices. Dust collecting on the fan of your computer can cause it to overheat and burn up. Regular cleaning with compressed air will help keep your laptop or computer working for years to come. (Much of this can be done without opening anything, but if you live in a particularly dusty area, a <a href="">deep cleaning</a> may be necessary.)</p> <h2>Internal Maintenance</h2> <p>Keeping the internals operating efficiently does not require a lot of complicated hackery, just some basic maintenance, with software tools you probably already have.</p> <h3>Defragment</h3> <p>Much like regular cleaning, your computer needs regular maintenance to keep it running smoothly. Defragmenting should be done once a month to clean out your computer's temporary files. If you are running a newer version of Windows (7 or 8), defragmenting is done regularly by your computer. However, older versions of Windows and those people who have their computer turned off during the <a href="">scheduled defragmentation</a> (usually 2 a.m. on Wednesdays) will need to manually defragment their hard drives.</p> <h3>Clutter</h3> <p>Cleaning up a cluttered desk top can significantly increase PC speed, as well as dumping the Recycle Bin at least once a month. (Tools like <a href="">CCleaner</a> are free and can assist with some of these processes.)</p> <h3>Battery</h3> <p>If you haven't thought about your computer's battery lately, you should! The battery should be completely drained at least once a month and then be allowed to fully charge before being used again. This draining and recharging cycle keeps your battery fully operational. If you are using a laptop, it is also good to unplug it regularly and rely on the battery to keep it working.</p> <h2>Care</h2> <p>More than anything you can do for your computer, taking care with how you handle and use it is the most important. Computers are damaged and ruined beyond repair due to careless and uneducated users.</p> <h3>Keep Liquids Away</h3> <p>Most of us are guilty of doing this; when you work at your desk, you want a drink handy, whether it is your morning cup of coffee, water throughout the day, or a glass of wine as you wind down in the evening. However, that beverage could easily spill and ruin your computer. It's best to keep it out of reach of your computer or, at the very least, in something with a lid.</p> <h3>Ensure Proper Ventilation</h3> <p>If you own a laptop, it's nice to take it to the couch or into bed with you while you surf the internet. However, this seemingly normal task could be destroying your computer and it's motor. They need space underneath for air to flow through and a soft surface from a blanket or cushion could cause it to overheat. If you are going to be laying in bed, place a book or a <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;node=490924011&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=QUBZ2KBXPNH3QK35">lap desk</a> under your laptop while you work. The best place for it, is on a hard surface with a cooling pad or fan underneath. This will protect it from overheating at all times.</p> <h3>Safely Transport</h3> <p>Transporting your laptop can also be the cause for irreparable damage. Whether you are carrying your laptop in your hand or in a bag, something can go wrong if you are not doing it properly. Laptops should always be turned off and carried with two hands when walking around, and the monitor should be down. (See also: <a href="">11 Cool Uses for a Tablet Computer</a>)</p> <p>When transporting it in a bag, it is important to have it inside a case. A neoprene case that slips snugly around the laptop will keep it from being broken if it bangs into something in your bag and prevent anything like food or sharp objects from getting into the ports on the side of the laptop.</p> <p>You should also consider unplugging the power cord from the unit when not charging or in use, the small hole (or &quot;jack&quot;) where the plug goes in can become loose over time, causing your laptop to be unable to be charged and resulting in a costly $75+ repair.</p> <h2>Upgrades</h2> <p>Most manufacturers will tell you that the average lifespan of a laptop is 2-3 years and a desktop computer 3-5 years, but this is typically due to newer technology being developed. If you keep your computer running smoothly and upgrade the operating system every few years, there is no reason it can not outlive what is &quot;average.&quot; In addition, it's possible to get more life for your gadget by upgrading the following:</p> <h3>RAM (memory)</h3> <p>One of the most effective ways to give new life to your computer, giving memory a boost can be a DIY project. <a href="">This classic article from PCWorld</a> still applies, and most upgrades can run between $40 to $200 with the cost of the memory product and any tools you'll need to perform the task.</p> <h3>Hard Drive</h3> <p>If you have a drive crash, or just feel like you would like a better brand/model, switching out your hard drive may be something you can do at home. It's <a href="">not a simple process</a>, but it definitely can be one of the best &quot;CPR&quot; procedures you can do for a PC or Mac.</p> <h3>Video Card</h3> <p>If you find your computer lagging a bit, or unable to play newer, faster games, you may simply find a new video card to be the fix you need. Cards range in price from $75 to $500, so do some research to buy the least costly solution for your PC or laptop.</p> <p>Proper protection, maintenance, cleaning, and care only take a few minutes each month to ensure a long lifespan for our most-essential of electronics.</p> <p><em>How do you keep your computer running smoothly? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Make Your Computer Last (Almost) Forever With Some Simple Tricks" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Linsey Knerl</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> DIY Technology computer care computer maintenance computers laptops Thu, 19 Jun 2014 13:00:03 +0000 Linsey Knerl 1145125 at The 5 Best Tablet Computers <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-5-best-tablet-computers" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="tablet" title="tablet" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="156" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Tablets are built to hold an immense amount of computing power within an extremely portable and versatile design that allow them to be used in a variety of ways, whether it be for business or for leisure. Their ever-growing popularity has spawned a multitude of different models and operating systems, which may make it difficult to choose from. But we've narrowed down the choices with our top 5 picks to help you determine the perfect tablet for you.</p> <h2>What Is a Tablet?</h2> <p>A tablet is essentially a mobile computer that has a touchscreen, processor, and battery all encased within a single slate, hence the name &ldquo;tablet.&rdquo; Tablets have a very minimalist design in terms of hardware, with only a few physical buttons and operation being dictated by finger gestures on the tablet's touchscreen.</p> <p>Most tablets are divided into 10-inch and 7-inch categories and nowadays come with a built-in camera, microphone, accelerometer, and a Wi-Fi chip, with the option of adding a cellular band so that you can get 3G or 4G internet connectivity wherever you go. But what makes a tablet really useful is the wide variety of applications that you can download onto it. There practically is an app for anything and everything you could want to do, which is what makes a tablet so versatile.</p> <h2>Top 5 Tablets</h2> <h3>Apple iPad (4th Generation)</h3> <p><a target="_blank" href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B009W8YQ6K&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20"><img style="float:right; height:300px; width:243px" src="" alt="" /></a>The original <a target="_blank" href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B009W8YQ6K&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20">Apple iPad</a> kicked off the tablet generation, and four iterations later, it's still one of the best tablets you can buy.</p> <p>With top ratings from Consumer Reports and Good Housekeeping, the newest model's greatest feature is its gorgeous Retina display that packs a massive 3.1 million pixels into a 9.7-inch screen, resulting in lifelike text and almost realistic image clarity. Inside the iPad's super-thin aluminum casing is a A6X dual-core processor that outputs blazing fast speeds when using apps or playing games, as well as a massive battery that lasts over 10 hours on a single charge. Many users have also reported that the iPad's iOS operating system is a breeze to learn and use.</p> <p>This Apple tablet has access to over 375,000 iPad-optimized apps available on Apple's App Store, which is the largest collection of tablet apps around. While it may lack the customization options of its competitors and has the highest price tag on this list, the newest Apple iPad still sets the bar for quality in the tablet market with its impressive set of features.</p> <p><em><a target="_blank" href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B009W8YQ6K&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20">Currently $460.00 for the 16GB Wi-Fi-only model on Amazon.</a></em></p> <h3>Microsoft Surface RT</h3> <p><a target="_blank" href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B009XNBFJK&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20"><img style="float:right; height:207px; width:324px" src="" alt="" /></a>Another Consumer Reports top pick, the <a target="_blank" href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B009XNBFJK&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20">Microsoft Surface RT</a> is best-suited for those who want the most computing power out of their tablet.</p> <p>With 2GB of internal RAM and a quad-core NVIDIA Tegra 3 graphics chip, the Surface RT powers through apps smoothly and efficiently. Its large 10.6-inch display doesn't match the incredible resolution of the Apple iPad, but HD content still looks really good on it. The Surface RT utilizes the Windows RT operating system, which is the newest in the tablet market. It excels at multi-tasking like no other, as it allows you to have two apps open side-by-side at the same time. Also, pairing this tablet with an optional Touch Cover or Type Cover will really turn the Surface RT into a productivity machine.</p> <p>However, being the newest OS means that the app selection in the Windows Store is the smallest collection available so far, and users have also said that there's quite the learning curve in using this tablet. That being said, the Microsoft Surface RT adds a fresh new look with a big dose of power that comes in at a very attractive price.</p> <p><em><a target="_blank" href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B009XNBFJK&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20">Currently $318.28 for the 32GB model on Amazon.</a></em></p> <h3>Google Nexus 7 (2nd Generation)</h3> <p><a target="_blank" href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00DVFLJDS&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20"><img style="float:right; height:300px; width:186px" src="" alt="" /></a>Google's Android line of tablets has the largest share of the tablet market today, due to the sheer amount of options available. Of those options, <a target="_blank" href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00DVFLJDS&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20">Google's Nexus 7</a> stands out as the bright and shining example of the best Android tablet for your money.</p> <p>A top pick from Consumer Search and Consumer Reports, the Nexus 7 holds a whopping 2.3 million pixels in its 7-inch HD display. That may be less than the Apple iPad, but at 323 pixels per inch, images and text may look even sharper and more realistic on the Nexus 7. Having a quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro processor and 2GB of RAM guarantees that apps run very smoothly and that graphics shine brilliantly. A built-in NFC chip allows you to wirelessly charge the Nexus 7's battery, which can last over 9 hours.</p> <p>The Nexus 7 is also one of the few Android tablets that comes with a stock version of newest Android 4.3 &ldquo;Jelly Bean&rdquo; operating system, which means that it won't have any unnecessary third-party apps pre-installed. It may not be as simple as Apple's iOS, but there's a lot more customization options and it has fully-integrated Google apps. When all is said and done, the Google Nexus 7 is an incredible iPad alternative at less than half its price.</p> <p><em><a target="_blank" href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00DVFLJDS&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20">Currently $269 for the 32GB model on Amazon.</a></em></p> <h3>Amazon Kindle Fire HD</h3> <p><a target="_blank" href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00CU0NSCU&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20"><img style="float:right; height:300px; width:225px" src="" alt="" /></a>A Consumer Reports Best Buy, the <a target="_blank" href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00CU0NSCU&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20">Amazon Kindle Fire HD</a> is a feature-rich tablet that doesn't require you to be to super rich to get it. It may not be a powerhouse like the Nexus 7, but the Kindle Fire HD's 1.5GHz dual-core processor works well enough for fast web browsing and playing games.</p> <p>The 1280x800 resolution HD display is nothing to laugh at either, as reading and watching HD content looks beautiful on this device, and its 10+ hour battery life is impressive for a budget tablet. This tablet is especially ideal for Amazon Prime subscribers, as the Fire OS 3.0 &ldquo;Mojito&rdquo; operating system integrates all of Amazon's services into the device for easy management and access. The new FreeTime feature provides strong parental controls in allowing separate profiles to be created for children using the tablet that will also cater content from Amazon accordingly.</p> <p>However, the Kindle Fire HD is far from perfect. The app selection in the Amazon App Store is extremely limited, there's a cost to removing ads from the device, and the OS may feel significantly slower than its competitors. But for the price, the Kindle Fire HD is a great tablet that offers a ton of bang for your buck.</p> <p><em><a target="_blank" href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00CU0NSCU&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20">Currently $139.00 for the 8GB model on Amazon.</a></em></p> <h3>Barnes &amp; Noble Nook HD+</h3> <p><a target="_blank" href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00AGAS6XW&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20"><img style="float:right; height:300px; width:213px" src="" alt="" /></a>Despite the very tough competition, the <a target="_blank" href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00AGAS6XW&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20">Barnes &amp; Noble Nook HD+</a>, another Consumer Reports Best Buy, is hands down the best value you can get on a tablet. First off, it has all the great features of tablets priced way above it. It has a brilliant 7-inch display with an incredible 1920x1200 resolution that beats its Amazon competitor, a fast 1.5GHz dual-core processor, and a mighty 10-hour battery life. It also allows multiple profiles to be created on the device as a parental control feature. Its biggest and greatest feature, however, is that it has access to the Google Play Store and its massive app collection.</p> <p>Like the Kindle Fire HD, its operating system is an Android skin that takes advantage of Barnes &amp; Noble's small ecosystem. But unlike the Amazon tablet, having access to apps in the Google Play Store essentially makes the Nook HD+ a full-blown Android tablet at a ridiculously low price. Slight performance issues aside, the Nook HD+ tablet is an incredible bargain that you should grab ASAP if you're looking for the best value tablet.</p> <p><em><a target="_blank" href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00AGAS6XW&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20">Currently $155.94 for the 16GB model on Amazon.</a></em></p> <p>And those are our recommendations for the best tablet computers. As always, be sure to check out the <a href="">Wise Bread Shopping Calendar</a> to learn when and how to buy just about anything!</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="The 5 Best Tablet Computers" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">William Tran</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Shopping buying guides computers product reviews tablets Wed, 30 Oct 2013 09:36:03 +0000 William Tran 1044649 at Don't Make These 5 Laptop-Buying Mistakes <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/dont-make-these-5-laptop-buying-mistakes" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="woman hugging laptop" title="woman hugging laptop" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Shopping for a new laptop can be fun and exciting, but don't let that cloud your judgment, or you may end up with a shiny new piece of technology that costs too much, weighs too much, and does too little. Before making your next laptop purchase consider these &quot;don'ts&quot; of buying a laptop, and you can avoid one of the most common, financially costly mistakes made by consumers. (See also: <a href="">The Best Back-to-School Laptops</a>)</p> <h2>1. Don't Buy the Wrong Laptop for the Right Price</h2> <p>Buying technology that doesn't actually suit your needs is a bad deal no matter how little you paid for it.</p> <p>The general rule of thumb for electronics is the better the price, the worse the performance. To ensure that you're buying a laptop that does what you need it to do, start your search by knowing exactly what you will be using it for. Next, check the specs and user reviews to find out as many product details as you possibly can. (See also: <a href="">What to Look for in a Laptop</a>)</p> <p><strong>Finding the Right Laptop</strong></p> <ul> <li>For students and professionals who need a portable computer for daily work and travel, look for a laptop that weighs around five pounds and has a smaller monitor size because bigger screens can't even be fully opened on some planes.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>For laptops that will be used in place of desktop computers and will mostly stay at home, go for the big monitor with all the bells and whistles &mdash; and a large screen with high resolution for watching movies, TV, and playing games.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>If you only use a laptop to send emails and surf the net, then you're free to look for a bargain for any type of laptop at any size.</li> </ul> <h2>2. Don't Buy Brand Hype and Marketing</h2> <p>Yes, Apple is the talk of the town with an excellent reputation&hellip; But, <a href="">in a feature-to-feature comparison by Gizmag</a>, the KIRAbook from Toshiba stands up to the <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B007473FNQ&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20" target="_blank">MacBook Pro</a> in almost every way: &quot;The specs of each competing device's lowest-priced models are almost identical, with the exception of storage, where the KIRAbook doubles the MacBook Pro's offering of 128 GB to 256 GB.&quot;</p> <p>Similarly, Alienware is the &quot;it&quot; brand for gaming laptops, but when compared to a Qosmio, it turned out to be more expensive, with lesser value.</p> <p>The <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00F0PB66C&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20" target="_blank">Qosmio X70-ABT2G22</a> is priced at $1,250 before customization. Standard features include an Intel Core i7 processor, 1TB hard drive, a 17.3&quot; LED backlit display (1920x1080), and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770M 3GB performance graphics. In order to match the screen quality with an Alienware, you need to pay for an upgrade, and the same goes for the performance graphics. With a starting price difference of $400, you need to spend an extra $400 in upgrades to get the machines roughly on par. To get an Alienware to roughly equal the specs offered by the Qosmio resulted in an $800 price difference!</p> <p>So don't forget &mdash; shop the specs and not the brand when buying your next machine. You'll be surprised at how much you can save.</p> <p>Compile a list of your needs and compare the features, spec by spec. Throw your brand loyalty out the window and read before making a final decision. Read reviews from neutral sources and ignore deals with tons of extras, like software, unless those extras are things you would actually spend money on anyway. (See also: <a href="">How We Brainwash Ourselves Into Brand Loyalty</a>)</p> <h2>3. Don't Wait for Holiday Sales and Deals</h2> <p>Back-to-school and holiday sales are well advertised and may be a good time to get the precise model a company is pushing but not necessarily the best deal overall. In fact, <a href=""></a> looked at the pricing information for 6,000 laptops over three years and concluded that <a href="">the best laptop prices occur during mid-summer</a>, before back-to-school season and again right before Christmas during &quot;last-minute&quot; shopping.</p> <p>Retailers push out more sales and discounts during the holiday season, but are these deals better compared to other times of the year? The answer is no.</p> <p>Because most consumers are in the mindset to buy during the holidays, retailers play off of this weakness and pump out a higher quantity of deals, but the quality of a deal is what makes the difference on how much money you save.</p> <p>According to, their HP coupon code offers drove 10% more sales during the summer than the year-end holidays with comparable site traffic, due to more aggressive back-to-school savings options for laptop buyers. Once you have narrowed down your search and know which laptop you want, start monitoring prices and deals for a few weeks, and to save time, set up a price alert to get email notifications when the price of a desired item drops.</p> <h2>4. Don't Pay for an Extended Warranty</h2> <p>Extended warranties might make you feel like you're covered, but when it comes to laptops, it's more often than not a waste of money. The reason being, most laptop failures occur long after the standard warranty expires, and most repairs cost around the same amount as the warranty. (See also: <a href="">Get Free Extended Warranty From Your Credit Card</a>)</p> <p>Consumer Reports advises against extended warranties with two exceptions:</p> <ol> <li>If you travel frequently with your laptop and the warranty includes coverage for theft or damage.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>If you're buying an Apple product and want extended tech support; tech support coverage from Apple can be skimpy if you don't have a service contract.</li> </ol> <h2>5. Don't Overlook the Benefits of Bundling</h2> <p>Some consumers make an automatic assumption that a bundle price is a rip-off and that the manufacturer is just trying to sell a bunch of extra stuff you don't need. However, buying a new laptop can lead to additional purchases including a carrying case, mouse, screen protector, keyboard cover, and so on. Bundling your laptop and accessory needs can help you save more money. By putting some thought into which accessories you may potentially need, you can take advantage of bundling discounts and save on all related items in one fell swoop.</p> <p><em>What's your best laptop purchase advice?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Don&#039;t Make These 5 Laptop-Buying Mistakes" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Nayri Leanna Gregor</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Shopping buying guides computers discount shopping laptops Thu, 03 Oct 2013 09:48:03 +0000 Nayri Leanna Gregor 988397 at Stuff We Love: The MacBook Pro, a Hassle-Free Laptop <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/stuff-we-love-the-macbook-pro-a-hassle-free-laptop" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="woman using laptop" title="woman using laptop" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>About three years ago, after a lifetime of owning Windows-based PCs and having them break or suffer other problems, I <a target="_blank" href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;hidden-keywords=B00746YHV6%7CB00746YMHA%7CB00746YPQI%7CB00746YTLY%7CB005CWJABQ%7CB005CWJB5G%7CB0074703CM%7CB007470SMM%7CB0074712UY%7CB007472CIK%7CB007473FNQ%7CB007473X6A%7CB007474DSM&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;node=16368311&amp;pf_rd_i=565124&amp;pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&amp;pf_rd_p=1567872962&amp;pf_rd_r=1J663EVA24M6S767GFSY&amp;pf_rd_s=center-4&amp;pf_rd_t=101&amp;tag=stuffwelove-20">bought a MacBook Pro</a>.</p> <p>I'm knocking on wood as I write this, but the Mac hasn't failed me yet, and I consider it one of my best purchases &mdash; after my wife's engagement ring and my car. I don't expect it to last nearly as long as the others, but it's doing what it's supposed to do: provide dependable computing power that's easy to use.</p> <h2>Why I Chose My MacBook Pro</h2> <p>I needed a new computer when the desktop PC from Dell that we owned at home kept crashing and always seemed to get viruses, no matter how many anti-virus protection programs I used. The end came after the third visit from a computer technician, when I realized it would be cheaper to buy an expensive Mac than to buy an inexpensive PC that might break down again and cost me repair bills.</p> <p>For the work I do on a computer &mdash; writing and editing &mdash; I don't need much computing power. I'm not a techie, and I don't have much of an idea about how much memory, processor speed, and other features I'll need on a computer. I started by doing my research where it made the most sense: the Apple store. I told the clerk what my needs were, and within 20 minutes I knew which computer I wanted.</p> <p>My main goal was to get a laptop computer that wouldn't break down, had a good reputation for reliability, and was easy to use. PCs are advertised as easy to use, too, and they are up to a point with Windows, but they didn't seem intuitive to use. A Mac met all of my criteria.</p> <p>Because I wanted an anti-glare screen, I had to either buy it online or over the phone, as it wasn't available in the store. I called an Apple customer service representative later and bought one after about an hour of configuring it to suit me.</p> <p><img width="605" height="302" src="" alt="" /></p> <h2>What's Great About It</h2> <p>For a product that most people didn't need 20 years ago, owning a computer has become a part of everyday life. While the <a href="">PC market is declining</a> and giving way to tablets, as someone who used to write school reports on a typewriter, writing on the physical keyboard of a laptop computer is a lot easier than typing on a tablet.</p> <p>Like any laptop computer, my MacBook Pro is portable, and with a Wi-Fi connection I can easily work from anywhere in the world. I won't bore you with the technical specifications of the MacBook Pro I bought, but here are the things I like best about it.</p> <p><strong>It Has Everything I Need</strong></p> <p>If you have one or more Apple products (I have an iPhone and iPod Touch) that store music, a calendar, podcasts, photos, email, and other things, an Apple computer can make running them and syncing them much easier. A PC can do some of that too, but the MacBook Pro keeps it all under one roof.</p> <p>I also considered buying a <a target="_blank" href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00746YPQI&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=stuffwelove-20">MacBook Air</a> &mdash; mainly because it's so light &mdash; but I opted for the Pro because it offered more storage at a cheaper price and had the fastest speed. I don't want to be slowed down by a computer while working, and the Pro seemed to be better for work use and had the power to run more programs in the future.</p> <p><strong>It's Easy to Use</strong></p> <p>One fear I had before buying it was that there would be a steep learning curve, and I'd never know how to use everything on it. For $350, my fear was put aside with <a target="_blank" href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;field-keywords=applecare&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Aapplecare&amp;tag=stuffwelove-20&amp;url=search-alias%3Daps">AppleCare</a>, a protection program that not only extended the warranty for three years, but also got me phone help for that time. I also bought Apple's <a href="">One to One</a> for $100, which gave me an hour at a time of direct instruction from an Apple expert at an Apple store.</p> <p>Group sessions were also included in that year of instruction I bought, and I found that after less than a dozen trips to the store, I had enough instruction and was ready to go it alone. I still haven't gotten around to learning everything on my MacBook Pro that I'd like to (I'm still trying to figure out the video software, for example), but I've found everything to be easy to use. Everything seems intuitive and easy to find, making it a joy to work on.</p> <p><strong>It's Reliable</strong></p> <p>So far my MacBook Pro hasn't suffered any viruses and hasn't crashed. I've heard of Mac owners having their hard drives crash after only a few years of ownership, causing them to lose things they didn't back up. My three-year warranty expires very soon, which should leave me to believe that it will crash the day after the warranty expires. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.</p> <h2>What the MacBook Pro Compares To</h2> <p>The MacBook Air may be the closest comparison, though that may not be a fair one because it's in the Apple family. Again, I don't know all of the technical specifications of each, but Apple has an extensive <a href="">comparison chart</a> to see which fits your needs best.</p> <p>Since I've bought mine, Apple has come out with the <a href="">retina display</a> to make the image sharper, so there's always going to be something better out there a year or so after you buy a computer.</p> <p>For the Windows equivalent of the MacBook Pro, the world is wide open and depends on your tastes. You'll likely get more computing power with a PC for the same amount of money, or an equal computer for a lot less money in a PC, but I don't think it will ever be as enjoyable, dependable, and easy to use as a MacBook Pro.</p> <h2>Who the MacBook Pro Is Best For</h2> <p>For someone who wants a workhorse of a computer to work on that will meet their future computing needs, the MacBook Pro is hard to beat. It has a lot of storage, has high performance, and will last for years. If you're coming from the PC world, as I was, and want an Apple computer that's reliable, can do all of the work you need, and looks and feels good doing it, this is worth the money.</p> <h2>How It Could Be Better</h2> <p>Computers are always getting faster and lighter, so no matter what you buy today, in a few years you could probably buy something faster with more memory and less weight at a cheaper price.</p> <p>I have no regrets about buying my MacBook Pro, and I hope it continues working well for many years to come. My only wish is that it was lighter. Mine weighs 5.6 pounds, compared to 2.96 pounds for the heaviest MacBook Air. That's almost twice as much weight for a computer that is heavier because it has a hard disk drive. The Air is so light you'll think you're holding a paperback book.</p> <h2>What They Don't Tell You in the Manual</h2> <p>None of the sales people told me how hot the computer would get. It was a question I asked during my research, and they all told me it wouldn't overheat. So far it hasn't overheated and automatically turned off, as my PC used to do once in awhile, but the bottom does get hot to the touch after only a few hours of use.</p> <p>This may be normal and nothing to worry about. I don't know. Maybe it's because I have a plastic protective cover on it (with air holes), and sitting on a desk or table leaves no room for air to circulate. I'm on my computer for four or so hours per day, so I expect it to get warm, but the heat it generates makes me think something could go wrong.</p> <p>If you're used to using an external mouse to move around the screen, as I was, then a <a target="_blank" href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;field-keywords=apple%20magic%20mouse&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Aapple%20magic%20mouse&amp;sprefix=apple%20magic%2Caps&amp;tag=stuffwelove-20&amp;url=search-alias%3Daps">wireless Magic Mouse</a> is a good investment. Just be sure to have plenty of rechargeable batteries for it, since they deplete quickly.</p> <h2>Bottom Line Recommendation</h2> <p>I'm now a lifetime Apple customer, a choice I would have made many years ago if I had the foresight to realize that paying so much for an Apple computer is worthwhile in the long run. Given the work I do, it's probably more computing power than I need, but I expect it will meet my future needs. You could probably save some money, and weight, with a MacBook Air, but I think the Pro can be a longtime member of your work and social lives.</p> <h2>Where to Get Yours</h2> <p><a href=""></a>, the company's website, is the best place to start to research what you need. You can either buy it there online, do it over the phone if you want to talk it out with someone, or buy at a store.</p> <p><a target="_blank" href=";fot=9999&amp;foc=1">Best Buy</a> and other local stores also sell Apple products. Because Apple controls most of its prices, you'll rarely find prices much lower than you would at an Apple store. However, the stores may have sales or include extras. They may also have higher pressure sales tactics, while I've found the sales people at Apple stores to be more interested in first helping you find the computer that's right for you.</p> <p>And, of course, <a target="_blank" href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;hidden-keywords=B00746YHV6%7CB00746YMHA%7CB00746YPQI%7CB00746YTLY%7CB005CWJABQ%7CB005CWJB5G%7CB0074703CM%7CB007470SMM%7CB0074712UY%7CB007472CIK%7CB007473FNQ%7CB007473X6A%7CB007474DSM&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;node=16368311&amp;pf_rd_i=565124&amp;pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&amp;pf_rd_p=1567872962&amp;pf_rd_r=1J663EVA24M6S767GFSY&amp;pf_rd_s=center-4&amp;pf_rd_t=101&amp;tag=stuffwelove-20"> sells the MacBook Pro</a>. I've seen some deals here, ranging from $50 to $150 off regular prices.</p> <p>A MacBook Pro costs from about $1,200 for a 13-inch laptop to $2,800 for a 15-inch with retina display. An extended warranty, classes, computer upgrades and extras such as a mouse cost extra.</p> <p><strong><a target="_blank" href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;hidden-keywords=B00746YHV6%7CB00746YMHA%7CB00746YPQI%7CB00746YTLY%7CB005CWJABQ%7CB005CWJB5G%7CB0074703CM%7CB007470SMM%7CB0074712UY%7CB007472CIK%7CB007473FNQ%7CB007473X6A%7CB007474DSM&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;node=16368311&amp;pf_rd_i=565124&amp;pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&amp;pf_rd_p=1567872962&amp;pf_rd_r=1J663EVA24M6S767GFSY&amp;pf_rd_s=center-4&amp;pf_rd_t=101&amp;tag=stuffwelove-20">Get Your MacBook Pro Today!</a></strong></p> <p><em>Are you a PC user or Mac user?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Stuff We Love: The MacBook Pro, a Hassle-Free Laptop" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Aaron Crowe</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Shopping buying guides computers laptops stuff we love Fri, 20 Sep 2013 10:18:18 +0000 Aaron Crowe 988402 at How to Get Free or Cheap Internet Access <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-get-free-or-cheap-internet-access" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="woman with laptop" title="woman with laptop" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It is not unusual to pay $15 to $70 a month for cable or DSL Internet service in your home. The lower price is normally obtained by bundling your Internet with other services, such as your home phone and cable television. If you are looking to reduce your monthly expenses but still want to use the Internet, here are some ways you can get free or cheap Internet access. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="">Cutting the Cable Cord Has More Than Financial Benefits</a>)</p> <h3>Consider Dial-Up Internet</h3> <p>If you don&rsquo;t use the Internet frequently or don&rsquo;t have a need for lightning-fast service, you may consider using dial-up Internet service instead of DSL, cable, or FIOS. You can get dial-up Internet for as low as $9.99 a month through <a href="">NetZero</a>, provided you live in an area the company services. <a href="">Juno</a> advertises a dial-up plan for $10.95 a month. <a href="">EarthLink</a> offers a plan for as low as $12.50 a month if you prepay for a year at a time.</p> <h3>Internet Service Through Your Cell Phone Provider</h3> <p>If you already have a <a href="">cell phone plan</a>, you might save money by using a data plan through your cell phone company rather than having both a cell phone plan and a separate Internet service. <a href="">Verizon</a> charges between $50 and $100 a month for a cell phone and data plan, depending how much data you use per month. For some people, even the higher price of $100 a month for a data plan and phone service with Verizon would be less expensive than their existing monthly phone service and separate monthly Internet service bills. Verizon also offers a prepaid service for unlimited talk, text, and a data plan starting at $50 per month with no annual contract. If you don&rsquo;t like the idea of checking your email or social media accounts on your phone, you can often use the cellular data plans through other device, including tablets or laptop computers, by turning your phone into a Wi-Fi hotspot.</p> <h3>Limit Your Internet Use to Free Wi-Fi Locations</h3> <p>If you&rsquo;re not a college student, finding free Wi-Fi can be challenging if you are looking for an always-on, always-available location. If you don&rsquo;t have an absolute need for Internet access in your home, you can get free Internet access from most <a href="">public libraries</a>. For some people, the library is conveniently located on their way to or from work and could easily take the place of Internet at home if you are someone who only uses the Internet for email or for occasional research.</p> <p>If you have a wireless-enabled device such as a laptop, phone, or tablet, you can find free Wi-Fi through a variety of coffee shops, restaurants, hotels, and even some <a href="">bars</a>. Use a site like <a href="">Wi-Fi FreeSpot</a> to search for free Wi-Fi locations according to your location or where you plan to travel.</p> <h3>Internet for Low-Income Americans</h3> <p>There are government programs that exist to provide free or cheap Internet service for lower-income Americans. The availability of programs depends on location, availability of funds, and the applicant&rsquo;s income level. The <a href="">FCC</a> announced a program called &ldquo;<a href="">Connect to Compete</a>,&rdquo; which will provide low-cost computers to low-income homes, and Internet access for $9.99 a month.</p> <p>You may also have luck finding a program for low-income Americans on <a href=""></a>, as well as a listing of possible <a href="">free Internet programs</a> on this page (while I&rsquo;m pretty sure the &ldquo;Google TISP&rdquo; was an elaborate April Fool&rsquo;s joke that went a little too far, the other options for possible free Internet look legitimate).</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="How to Get Free or Cheap Internet Access" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Debbie Dragon</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Home cell phone plan cheap internet computers free wifi Tue, 16 Oct 2012 10:24:44 +0000 Debbie Dragon 954956 at The Best and Worst Things to Buy in September 2012 <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-best-and-worst-things-to-buy-in-september-2012" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="drinking coffee" title="drinking coffee" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>September marks the end of summer, as well as our countdown to November, <a href="">Black Friday</a>, and the holiday season. (Yes, we're already thinking about it.) But September has its own deal virtues &mdash; including <a href="">Labor Day sales</a> &mdash; so we've mined the extensive dealnews archives of sales, coupons, and individual products from the past few summers to find out what are the best and worst things to buy in September. Here's what we found. (See also: Shopping Calendar: <a href="">The Best Time to Buy Anything</a>)</p> <h2>Cozy Up to Bedding Deals</h2> <p>For the past two years, <a href="">home good deals</a> have been rather strong in September, specifically for bedding, towels, and the like. We saw a large number of Editors' Choice options for bedding sets this time last year in particular. Keep an eye out for a variety of discounted home items from the likes of <a href="">JCPenney</a>, <a href="">Macy's</a>, <a href="">Sears</a>, <a href="">Designer Living</a>, and <a href="">Kohl's</a>. Notably, be on the look out for stacking coupons at Kohl's, and a mattress sale at Sears that beats its summer-month offerings. (Keep in mind however, that last year we saw excellent discounts on mattresses around Black Friday and Cyber Monday, too. So, in case you miss these sales, you'll have another opportunity to cash in on strong deals later in the year.)</p> <h2>Tangled Up in Blue Jeans</h2> <p>We've made it through the height of <a href="">Back to School shopping</a> season, which means you can start taking advantage of clearance sales for the student staple of denim. However, while we'll see modest discounts this month at about 40% off, these sales will continue into October, and will likely grow stronger. Also in November, many jeans specialists like <a href="">Levi's</a> could offer their best coupons of the year around Black Friday. Now is a good time to start looking at discounted jeans styles for a wider selection, but if you're not particular, next month will see steeper cuts.</p> <h2>SSD Storage Deals Are Solid</h2> <p>We've mentioned before that <a href="">Solid State Drives (SSDs) are on a constant downward price trajectory</a>, but this trend really ramped up this summer. The number of Editors' Choice deals nearly doubled each month since the spring, and we continue to see new all-time low prices for both specific models and overall drive capacities. <a href="">newegg</a> is overwhelmingly the store to go to for such deals, but <a href="">Micro Center</a>, <a href="">Amazon</a>, <a href="">TigerDirect</a>, and <a href=""></a> have all also had strong offerings.</p> <h2>Get Your Caffeine Fix for Free</h2> <p>Are you a devout coffee drinker? Then make sure to mark September 29 in your calendar, as several food chains will offer a free cup o' Joe in honor of National Coffee Day. Last year, <a href="">Krispy Kreme</a>, Waffle House, <a href="">7-11</a>, and <a href="">Caribou Coffee</a> all offered a special promotion to celebrate, and it's possible that other chains and local cafes will do the same.</p> <h2>New Price Points for the iPhone</h2> <p>Supposedly, the <a href="">newest Apple iPhone</a> will be announced on September 12, making it very likely that the company will slice prices on its older models. If the newest iPhone pricing mimics that of its siblings-made-obsolete, then <a href="">the iPhone 4S could drop to $99</a>. And the iPhone 4 will possibly stick around as an even more affordable model &mdash; a need that the iPhone 3GS will likely leave open as it is expected to be discontinued.</p> <h2>A Slew of iPhone Accessories, New and Old</h2> <p>Supposedly <a href="">the iPhone 5 will feature a completely new dock connector</a>, which means all existing <a href="">iPhone accessories</a> will become outdated overnight. Old accessories will then see aggressive deals as stores try to clear their shelves for brand new, full-price replacements. If you're upgrading to the iPhone 5, consider at least waiting a few months to add to your collection of dock accessories so that you can avoid paying retail price.</p> <h2>Rock-Bottom Airfare Rates</h2> <p>The cheapest <a href="">airfare deals</a> we saw throughout all of last year came in late September, when both Vision Airlines and <a href="">Spirit Airlines</a> offered 1-way fares for a whopping $1. Not a fan of those budget airlines? <a href="">JetBlue</a> also offered one of its best sales in September, dropping rates to just $29 each way. (However, we have seen JetBlue fares at this price at various other times in the year.) Of course, in order to take advantage of these rock-bottom prices, you have to be a lucky or flexible flyer to make use of the restricted routes and times.</p> <h2>Keep an Eye Out for Hot Sunglasses Sales</h2> <p>If you managed to make it through the summer without buying <a href="">a new pair of sunglasses</a>, you're about to be rewarded; according to our deals last year, the best storewide sunglasses sales popped up in September, as well as in November and December. For September in particular, look to <a href="">Oakley Vault</a>, <a href="">Sunglass Hut</a>, <a href="">REI</a>, <a href="">6pm</a>, and <a href=""></a> for discounted styles. Last September, Oakley Vault's <a href="">sunglasses sale</a> was the best the merchant offered all year.</p> <h2>Patio Furniture Deals Are Sitting Pretty</h2> <p>Finally, it's a great month to buy patio furniture! September will see an increase in the sheer number of <a href="">outdoor furniture sales</a> and deals that discount the seasonal outdoor items. October will see an uptick in the level of Editors' Choice caliber prices. But since several patio sets and gardening items from Sears, Amazon, and other merchants hit their lowest prices in October &mdash; and will be priced significantly lower than we had seen them over the summer &mdash;what's another few weeks of waiting?</p> <h2>Wait and See With Tablets</h2> <p>We're on a path toward seeing a very interesting, competitive <a href="">budget-friendly tablet</a> market in the coming weeks and months. It would benefit the consumer to hold off on purchases at the moment; increased competition could likely yield deals that either cut prices or bundle devices with useful media credits or gift cards. Amazon is rumored to be debuting the Kindle Fire 2 in a few days, resulting in a new lower price on the original Kindle, and come mid-month Apple may announce an &quot;iPad mini&quot;.</p> <h2>Big Screen 3D HDTVs Show Some Promise</h2> <p>Fall will soon be upon us and if you can refrain from any HDTV purchases over the next two months, you're bound to see the year's <a href="">best HDTV deals</a> come November. However, if you're in dire need of a new HDTV, you'll want to look at name-brand <a href="">55&quot; 3D LCD HDTVs</a>, as those are seeing the most action these days in terms of deals.</p> <p>Over the summer, 55&quot; 3D HDTVs dipped under the $1,000 mark, a price we had't seen since Black Friday 2011. Then, in early August, prices hit an all-time low, as we saw the 2012 LG 55LM7600 hit $949. While we still recommend waiting for the holidays, shoppers who can't wait until <a href="">Black Friday</a> should look at 55&quot; 3D LCD HDTVs under $1,000.</p> <h2>Ivy Bridge Laptops on the Move Again</h2> <p>Although <a href="">back to school sales</a> have generally come to an end, Ivy Bridge-based laptops are in a price free-fall. Whereas 15&quot; Ivy Bridge systems debuted at $1,000 in April, they closed out August at $480 &mdash; a price drop of over 50%. We expect to see even more aggressive deals as Microsoft preps systems for its Windows 8 launch in late October; shoppers would be wise to wait a few more weeks to see the <a href="">best laptop deals</a>.</p> <p>Again, if you can't wait, looks for 15&quot; Ivy Bridge systems between $480 and $550. Anything under $480 and you'll know you're buying a machine at an all-time low.</p> <p>Meanwhile, Mac fans who live near a <a href="">Fry's Electronics</a> store are in luck as the electronics retailer has been offering Apple's <a href="">13&quot; MacBook Air</a> (Ivy Bridge model) for $999 with in-store pickup. That's $200 under Apple's retail price and the lowest price we've seen this summer for the 13&quot; model. Don't live near a Fry's? <a href="">Best Buy</a>, Amazon, and <a href="">B&amp;H Photo Video</a> have each listed the 13&quot; Air at $1,099 (which is $100 under Apple's price).</p> <p><em>This is a guest post by </em><a href=""><em>Dealnews</em></a><em>.</em></p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-blog-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> What end-of-summer deals will you snag this month? Read through for the best and worst things to buy in September. </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Dealnews</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Shopping Airfare clothing coffee computers ipad iPhone laptops tvs Tue, 04 Sep 2012 10:24:41 +0000 Dealnews 954270 at How to Buy a Desktop Computer <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-buy-a-desktop-computer" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="desktop computer" title="desktop computer" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>So you're in the market for a new computer? What&rsquo;s it going to be? Mac or Windows? Blu-ray or regular DVD? Touch-screen monitor or standard mouse? With technology advancing so quickly and new features coming so fast, it&rsquo;s becoming harder and harder to know what to buy. (See also: <a href="">Why You Should Buy a Desktop Computer</a>)</p> <p>My advice to you is to treat this like you&rsquo;d shop for a suit or a dress: find the one that fits your body as comfortable as you can and ignore the rest.&nbsp;Some of us need to do advanced things like video processing, while others just need a machine that runs an Internet Browser and Microsoft Word. It&rsquo;s all about buying what&rsquo;s right for you.</p> <h3>Desktop Features That matter</h3> <p>These are the features you want to pay the most attention to when picking out your system.</p> <p><strong>Processor&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>This is the brains behind the whole operation. The processor determines how fast you will get stuff done on your computer and, to a large extent, how long it will last until your next upgrade. Buying the fastest processor you can afford is always good advice here. If you want to save some money, find the fastest processor and take one step down from there. It&rsquo;ll save you some money and you&rsquo;ll still get great performance.</p> <p><strong>RAM&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>The more RAM you have, the less bogged down your system will get. But RAM is easy to upgrade, so don&rsquo;t break the bank trying to fill up your computer with RAM. Instead, make sure the maximum amount of RAM it can be upgraded to is way up there (10+ GB of RAM). Then look for special deals on RAM and add as you go along.</p> <p><strong>Operating System</strong>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mac vs. Windows...the eternal question. What&rsquo;s it going to be? Are you ready to make a switch or do you want to stick with what you&rsquo;re used to? If you are a novice you may want to consider spending more to get a Mac. For all the power users out don&rsquo;t need me to tell you what to do.</p> <p><strong>Hard Drive Capacity</strong></p> <p>Like RAM, hard drives are easy to buy separately and replace/add as you go along. But they're also relatively cheap to add when you're buying your desktop -- if you're not the type who likes to open up the machine and fiddle with things. Think about all the photos and videos you want to store and go ahead and get as much as you can handle budget-wise.</p> <h3>Desktop Features That Are Just Hype</h3> <p>Leave out these bells and whistles that aren't useful.</p> <p><strong>Touch Screens</strong>&nbsp;</p> <p>They make for great commercials, but the mouse is still the best way to navigate through the software programs on a computer. While we&rsquo;re all getting used to using touchscreens on our cell phones and tablets, this is one thing you can do without. Especially if it costs more.</p> <p><strong>3D&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>Some computer makers are trying to jump on the 3D hype bandwagon, but it&rsquo;s so early on in the technology that there&rsquo;s no sense jumping in when we don&rsquo;t really know how it will all play out.</p> <h3>Special Features to Consider</h3> <p>Getting the right desktop for <em>you</em> is the most important consideration. Before you go shopping, think about what you're using it for, and how long you're expecting to keep the machine for.</p> <p><strong>Customer Support&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>If you know how to update your BIOS and change the boot order of your devices on a computer, then this won&rsquo;t be a feature you care about &mdash; you can probably handle most issues that you&rsquo;ll encounter. For everyone else, you want to make sure you&rsquo;re taken care of after you buy a computer. Issues will come up and they can be very frustrating. Knowing you can just pick up the phone and get help is kind of a big deal, so pay attention to the length and quality (read what people are saying) of the warranty, as well as the overall quality of the machine.</p> <p><strong>Differentiators</strong>&nbsp;</p> <p>This is where the personalization comes into play. What are you going to use this computer for? If it&rsquo;s editing large photos and videos, you&rsquo;ll need certain software and lots of RAM. If you&rsquo;re a gamer, you&rsquo;re going to want a monster video card. Pay attention to what you&rsquo;ll be using it for and buy accordingly. Don&rsquo;t fall into the temptation that you need to have it all! You will be wasting your money &mdash; just buy according to your usage.</p> <h3>Best Time to Buy</h3> <p>I like to keep an eye on the machine I want and hold out for a few weeks until I find a coupon or it goes on sale. You can usually find great deals in July and August, right before the newest models hit the shelves, and in November during Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.</p> <p>See our shopping calendar for more tips on the <a href="" title="Buying Calendar">best time to buy anything</a> and our other buying guides.</p> <h3>Recommended Desktops</h3> <p><strong>Best PC:</strong> Build your own Dell (<a href=""></a>). Remember what I said about buying a computer that fits you and your needs? Dell is a world-class company with great customer support that allows you to build your own machine with a wide variety of components. I&rsquo;ve built two machines with them and have absolutely no complaints. You can build a very good system for around $500.</p> <p><strong>Best Mac:</strong> <a href="">iMac</a> ($1,199). The whole machine is built into the monitor and no other desktop looks like it. Combine that with a fast processor, tons of RAM, and everything you need to pretty much run any program you&rsquo;d like, and you can&rsquo;t go wrong. It&rsquo;s more expensive...but there are reasons for that.</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="How to Buy a Desktop Computer" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Carlos Portocarrero</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="">Shopping articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Shopping buying guide computers Desktops Mon, 11 Jul 2011 09:48:29 +0000 Carlos Portocarrero 569042 at How to Buy a Laptop Computer <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-buy-a-laptop-computer" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="laptop computer" title="laptop computer" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Laptops are in the midst of a revolution. They&rsquo;ve become smaller, more powerful, and cheaper. As more and more people decide to buy laptops as their main computer, the market has fractured into different categories. There are laptops, ultra portables, <a href="">netbooks</a>, and even desktop replacements that can pretty much do it all but are expensive and pretty heavy. (See also: <a href="">Why You Should Buy a Desktop Computer</a>)</p> <h3>Laptop Features That Matter</h3> <p>Let&rsquo;s take a look at the different features we should pay attention to.</p> <p><strong>Processor&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>This is the most important part of any computer. Try to get as much processor as you can afford if you want to make your machine last. This is one thing you can&rsquo;t just upgrade when your machine starts to feel least not on most laptops.</p> <p><strong>Memory</strong></p> <p>Like the processor, if you don't want your laptop to get bogged down if you're doing several things at once, getting as much memory as you can afford will keep you happy and productive.</p> <p><strong>Battery</strong>&nbsp;</p> <p>If you&rsquo;re getting a laptop, you&rsquo;ll want to take it with you on the road at some point &mdash; otherwise buy yourself a desktop (it&rsquo;ll be cheaper). You&rsquo;ll want to use it without being tied to a power source, and that means you want a battery that will last. Scrambling for a power source in the middle of a project is a nightmare. Make sure you read a review or two that tests battery power to see how long you&rsquo;ll be able to go without relying on an outlet.</p> <p><strong>Weight&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>If you&rsquo;re going to be lugging this bad boy everywhere, you want to make sure you don&rsquo;t have a chunker in your bag. Trust me &mdash; it will catch up to you in a hurry if you have to carry a 10 pounder around everywhere. I carry my netbook with me to work every day and every ounce makes a difference.</p> <p><strong>Optical Drive</strong></p> <p>Netbooks and other ultra portable laptops don't come with a DVD drive. Decide ahead of time whether that'll be something you'll want to have. It narrows down your options. Most full size laptops will come with DVD-RW drives.</p> <p><strong>Screen Size</strong></p> <p>A small, lightweight laptop is great for carrying around, but will you be able to work with a 10&quot; screen? If you work with a lot of spreadsheets, that may not be your best choice.&nbsp;</p> <h3>Laptop Features That are Just Hype</h3> <p>There are some features that aren't cost effective to have.</p> <p><strong>3G/4G Connectivity&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>If Google&rsquo;s new <a href=";tag=bguidelink-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=217145&amp;creative=399373&amp;creativeASIN=B004Z6NWAU">Chromebooks</a> are the wave of the future (and they very well might be), then all laptops will have some kind of cellular connectivity and most of our work will be done in the cloud. Which is great, but it&rsquo;s still too soon. You can&rsquo;t count on reliable connectivity everywhere you go yet, and when you&rsquo;re stuck without an Internet connection your machine becomes pretty useless. Besides, this will add another monthly bill to your budget &mdash; not worth it just yet.</p> <p><strong>Hard Drive Capacity</strong></p> <p>Hard drive space on laptops are much more expensive than for desktops. If you need a ton of storage space, you might want to consider using a desktop instead (or get an external hard drive).&nbsp;</p> <h3>Special Features to Consider</h3> <p><strong>Blu-ray&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>If you don&rsquo;t have a Blu-ray player, you may want to consider getting a machine with a Blu-ray drive. Combine it with an HDMI port and you can save yourself the purchase of a dedicated DVD player. If you travel a lot, you&rsquo;ll appreciate being able to watch movies in all their Blu-ray glory.</p> <p><strong>Ultra Portability&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>Netbooks are small and that&rsquo;s great, but there is a new category of laptops emerging that are smaller and lighter and claim to be just as powerful. The <a href=";;tag=bguidelink-20&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957">MacBook Air</a> is a marvel of engineering and <a href=";tag=bguidelink-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=217145&amp;creative=399373&amp;creativeASIN=B004NF5RU6">Samsung&rsquo;s Series 9</a> is starting to catch up. If you&rsquo;re looking for ultra portable machines that are sexy as hell (read: expensive), you may want to look into these.</p> <h3>Best Tme to Buy</h3> <p>If you&rsquo;re interested in buying a Mac, definitely keep an eye on <a href="">MacRumor&rsquo;s Buying Guide</a>, which keeps track of the Mac laptop life cycle. The guide makes it real easy to understand when a new model might be coming and when to buy.</p> <p>Otherwise, keep an eye out in April. With new models coming out, retailers need to clear out inventory to make space. You can also take advantage of back-to-school sales in August and September for great deals on laptops and other electronics.</p> <p>See our shopping calendar for more tips on the <a href="" title="buying calendar">best time to buy anything</a> and our other buying guides.</p> <h3>Best Value Laptop</h3> <p><a href=";tag=bguidelink-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=217145&amp;creative=399373&amp;creativeASIN=B004IN85QQ"><strong>HP&rsquo;s DM1Z.</strong></a><strong> </strong>This machine combines the portability of a netbook with the performance of a premium machine. It has the features you want from a portable system (compact, relatively light, great battery life) with a powerful Fusion chip that&rsquo;ll pretty much run anything you want. This is the machine I upgraded to recently and I&rsquo;m ecstatic with it. It also has a great keyboard, which is crucial since writing is my thing. The DM1Z was an <a href="">easy decision</a>, especially since it clocks in around $449 (keep an eye out for <a href="">coupons</a>!).</p> <h3>Best Special Features Laptop</h3> <p><a href=";tag=bguidelink-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=217145&amp;creative=399373&amp;creativeASIN=B002QQ8H8I"><strong>MacBook Pro 13 inches</strong></a><strong>.</strong> Macs are inherently more expensive than their PC counterparts, but if you&rsquo;re looking for a machine that can pretty much do it all and look great doing it, this is it. It&rsquo;s got the battery life, a blazing processor, and it looks sexy as hell. You&rsquo;ll shell out at least $1,199 for the 13-inch version, but you&rsquo;ll get your money&rsquo;s worth. If I had the money, I probably would&rsquo;ve switched to Mac and bought this machine.</p> <SCRIPT charset="utf-8" type="text/javascript" src=""> </SCRIPT> <NOSCRIPT><A HREF=""> Widgets</A></NOSCRIPT><a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="How to Buy a Laptop Computer" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Carlos Portocarrero</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="">Shopping articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Shopping Technology buying guide computers laptops Fri, 24 Jun 2011 09:48:21 +0000 Carlos Portocarrero 569043 at Ask the Readers: Desktop or Laptop? <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ask-the-readers-desktop-or-laptop" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Old Mac Desktop Computer" title="Desktop or Laptop" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>Editor's Note: Congratulations to </em><a href=""><em>CgK</em></a><em>, </em><a href="!/ldelangel"><em>@ldelangel</em></a><em>, and </em><a href="!/profile.php?id=666898828"><em>Steve Sforza</em></a><em> for winning this week's contest!</em></p> <p>Computers have become a huge part of our day to day lives. &nbsp;I personally am a huge fan of laptops and cannot imagine life without my laptop. However, there are many people who prefer having a desktop computer as opposed to a laptop.</p> <p><strong>Do you have a desktop or laptop computer? </strong>Or do you have both? Which do you prefer and why?</p> <p>Tell us whether you have a desktop computer or a laptop and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!</p> <h2>Win 1 of 3 $20 Amazon Gift Cards</h2> <p>We're doing three giveaways &mdash; one for random comments, one for random Facebook &quot;Likes&quot;, and another one for random tweets.</p> <h3>Enter 1 of 3 Ways:</h3> <ul> <li>Post your answer in the comments below, or</li> <li>Go to our <a href="">Facebook page</a>, &quot;Like&quot; us, then &quot;Like&quot; the update mentioning this giveaway (you can comment, as well &mdash; but you don't have to for entry), or</li> <li><a href="">Tweet</a> your answer. You have to be a follower of our <a href="">@wisebread account</a>. Include both &quot;@wisebread&quot; and &quot;#WBAsk&quot; in your tweet so we'll see it and count it.</li> </ul> <p><strong>If you're inspired to write a whole blog post OR you have a photo on flickr to share, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.</strong></p> <h4>Giveaway Rules:</h4> <ul> <li>Contest ends Monday, April 11th at 11:59 pm Pacific. Winners will be announced after April 11th on the original post and via Twitter. Winners will also be contacted via email, Facebook, and Twitter Direct Message.</li> <li>You can enter all three drawings &mdash; once by leaving a comment, once by liking our Facebook update, and once by tweeting.</li> <li>You must be 18 and US resident to enter. Void where prohibited.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Good Luck!</strong></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Ask the Readers: Desktop or Laptop?" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><div class="field field-type-text field-field-blog-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Tell us whether you have a desktop computer or a laptop and we&#039;ll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card! </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Ashley Jacobs</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="">Giveaways articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Giveaways Ask the Readers computers Desktops laptops Tue, 05 Apr 2011 11:00:08 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 516978 at Renting Computers for Higher Profits <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="" target="_blank"></a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/renting-computers-for-higher-profits" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Employees on computers" title="Employees on computers" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Renting Computers for Higher Profits" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><p>You know how it starts. You had a computer when you started your company, so you just used it (did you remember to count it as part of your capitalization?). Your partners had computers too, so they just used theirs. And that first VP of Sales already had her own laptop. When you finally started hiring office help, you did what everybody else does and looked for the best deal on an &ldquo;adequate&rdquo; computer. And then another. And another.</p> <p>Next thing you know, you have a mish-mash of brands, different versions of operating systems, software, etc. Equipment is getting out of date and hard to maintain. It&rsquo;s difficult to bring on new employees or even temporary help because that means buying a new computer. You&rsquo;ve outrun the ability to manage IT yourself, so you&rsquo;re looking at outsourcing it or maybe even having to hire someone full-time.</p> <p>There&rsquo;s an alternative that many business owners never consider or aren&rsquo;t even aware of: renting your computers.</p> <p>Many profitable reasons exist for renting computers rather than buying them for your small business. Just because you operate on a smaller scale than larger conglomerates doesn&rsquo;t mean it&rsquo;s actually better for you to buy your office equipment. The simple truth is that, when you consider the total cost of ownership, it may very well be cheaper for you if you rent all of your office computers. In fact, once you realize how many reasons there are for you to rent your office computers, you will wonder why you didn&rsquo;t do so from the very beginning.</p> <p><strong>15 Practical and Profitable Reasons for Renting Versus Buying Computers</strong></p> <ol> <li>Renting avoids large capital expenditures and makes more cash available now for other opportunities.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Your IT expenses become steadier and more predictable, making cash flow planning easier.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>You can bring on temporary staff or meet other short-term needs without purchasing expensive equipment.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Technical support is included with your computer rental. Not only does this take away the headaches that usually accompany computer problems, but it also takes away the headaches that sometimes accompany installation and de-installation of office computers.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>You can hire people remotely or even abroad and still provide them local technical support.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>You can immediately replace a broken or stolen computer with a rental computer so you don&rsquo;t have to do without one while yours is being repaired.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>You can supply business visitors from out of town with rental computers to work on in your office.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>You can easily run training sessions or trade shows in which everyone has a computer, without the cost of purchasing and maintaining equipment that is only going to be used occasionally.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Custom configurations and upgrades to meet the needs of your business are simple with computer rentals, allowing you to ensure that you have the right resources for your needs.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>If you rent your computers, you are not locked into your current operating system platform going forward. And you can easily experiment with other platforms without a significant investment.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>You save on installation time. Your rental provider can set up standard software configurations and deliver your computers ready-to-use.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>No more operating system upgrade headaches. When a new version of Windows comes out, just get new computers and transfer the data.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Rentals allow businesses to stay up-to-date with the latest technology with none of the headaches of setting the equipment up each time they upgrade. Once you begin renting computers for your business, you will never have to deal with ancient computers again.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Rental companies will deliver the rental computer right to your business door or if you go away for a week, even to your vacation spot.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>With desktop computers, the rental comes with the monitor and other peripherals. Sometimes printers, faxes, or projectors are included with either laptop or desktop rentals.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>You can run a more successful business with efficient equipment. How much time have you lost because of computers that were slow or crash-prone? Rentals are guaranteed to be efficient. Replacement for temperamental computers is easy, and it&rsquo;s typically included in your rental agreement.</li> </ol> <p>Computer rental service providers may be local, national or even international. Local providers may give a little more personalized service, besides the usual benefits of supporting local small businesses like yourself.&nbsp; However, if you have multiple locations across the country or around the world, working with a larger supplier will most likely serve your needs better than working with multiple local businesses.</p> <p>Most importantly, be sure that you choose a vendor that specializes in long-term rentals as well as short-term. Many focus primarily on events and may not have competitive pricing and service plans for long-term rentals. Also, be sure to find out their policies regarding upgrading or swapping out computers on long-term rentals.</p> <p>Does renting computers make sense for your business? It really depends on your level of computing needs and the growth plan for your business. Many companies get by for five, seven, or even ten years or more using the same computers and software. But if computers are an essential tool for your business, and if your company is growing quickly, renting may very well save you money, reduce your stress, and increase your staff&rsquo;s productivity.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Scott Allen</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="">Small Business Resource Center articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Small Business Resource Center computers office equipment renting small business Thu, 23 Dec 2010 21:42:35 +0000 Scott Allen 374932 at Get Free Media Software for Your Windows PC <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/get-free-media-software-for-your-windows-pc" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="man with laptop" title="man with laptop" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>One of the advantages of Apple computers is that they come with pre-installed software like Apple's iLife. iLife includes programs for managing digital photos, editing home movies, producing music, and making websites. The great news is that Windows users no longer have to be left out of the fun. There are free software programs available on the Internet in each of these categories. (See also: <a href="" title="Excel: The Most Underrated Software You Already Own">Excel: The Most Underrated Software You Already Own</a>)</p> <h3>Managing Digital Photos: Google's Picasa</h3> <p><a href="">Google's Picasa</a> includes many features similar to Apple's iPhoto. It locates photos on your computer and neatly organizes them by date. You can easily improve your photos with editing tools like red-eye elimination, cropping, straightening, or adjusting brightness. Once edits are complete, you're ready to share an album. Picasa makes it easy by syncing with Picasa Web Albums, Blogger accounts, or Facebook (with <a href="">a free plugin</a>). If you prefer video, you can turn your pictures into a movie slideshow, add background music, and automatically upload them to YouTube.</p> <h3>Editing Home Movies: Windows Live Movie Maker</h3> <p><a href="">Windows Live Movie Maker</a> is easier than ever to record digital videos thanks to camcorders, <a href="" title="How to Buy a Digital Camera">cameras</a>, and cell phones. It helps you take those clips and turn them into impressive movies with titles, credits, background music, and animated transitions. It works similarly to Apple's iMovie. Windows Live Movie Maker displays your videos in a timeline format so you can easily view the frames that you want to edit. A preview screen immediately shows what the edited video looks like. Add the finishing touches by experimenting with dozens of preloaded transitions and visual effects. Then, quickly and easily publish your movie to the web with direct links to Facebook and YouTube.</p> <h3>Producing Your Own Music: Audacity</h3> <p><a href="">Audacity</a> is not &ldquo;pretty&rdquo; software, but when you get past its rough appearance, you'll find it to be a simple tool for making high-quality recordings. Aspiring musicians will love it for fine-tuning tracks and combining multiple recordings into home-produced songs. For the more casual user, you'll find it useful for cutting your favorite song down to a 30-second ringtone or putting together a voice-over for a home movie. You start by recording from a microphone or importing an existing track. Audacity will give you a visual representation so you can edit it by selecting the portion of the audio you want to work with. You can delete sections you don't want, add in sound effects, or decrease static from your microphone. Expect to spend a little more time learning how to use it than you would with Apple's Garage Band, but with the money you'll save it should be well worth it.</p> <h3>Making a Website: Weebly</h3> <p><a href="">Weebly</a> is unlike the other iLife alternatives in that it's an online service. This means that you <a href="" title="Website 101: How to Build a Site and Get It Online">build your website</a> by visiting and developing on There are many free alternatives for creating websites, but what separates Weebly is that each step is incredibly user-friendly, whether you are designing, building, or publishing. You start by selecting one of their website designs. Then, drag and drop the features you want from their toolbar onto your website. You can choose text areas, pictures, YouTube videos, maps, or many other items you're used to seeing on the Internet. When you're finished, just click &ldquo;publish&rdquo; and choose to either publish for free at &ldquo;; or upgrade to something more traditional like &ldquo;; Weebly is even more cost-effective than Apple's iWeb, which requires you to have Apple's $99/year MobileMe service to take advantage of publishing.</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Get Free Media Software for Your Windows PC" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><div class="field field-type-text field-field-guestpost-blurb"> <div class="field-label">Guest Post Blurb:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>This is a guest post by Mike Lammers. Mike is a &quot;tech guy&quot; striving to make technology easier to use. He's the founder of <a href="" target="_blank"><span></span></a>, a website with the motto that &quot;every overpriced software has an affordable alternative.&quot; Read more by Mike:</p> <ul> <li><a href="">Fixing Photos With GIMP</a></li> <li><a href="">OpenOffice vs. Microsoft Office</a></li> <li><a href="">Too Many Passwords?</a></li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Mike Lammers</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="">Technology articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Technology apple computer software computers photos programs websites Mon, 08 Nov 2010 13:00:11 +0000 Mike Lammers 280494 at Comparing Online Backup Services <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/comparing-online-backup-services" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="external hard drive" title="external hard drive" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="143" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>These days, people keep all kinds of data on their computers, from family photos to financial records. With no backups, you could lose all of the information for good if your computer crashes. All your cherished memories and important records could be gone forever. Although backing up to an external hard drive or another storage device is an option, theft, fire, or another natural disaster could wipe out your backups as well as what's on your computer.</p> <p>The logical and most convenient answer to this problem is online backup. Backing up your data onto an off-site server protects you by duplicating everything on your computer and storing it in a separate location. This way, if a fire destroys your computer, or if someone steals all of your electronics, you won't lose your backups at the same time.</p> <p>An online backup service installs software on your computer to control the whole thing and make it as user-friendly as possible. Most backup services allow you to schedule a time of day or night for the backup to run automatically, usually when you are not using the computer so that you can back up your data quickly without slowing down your computer while you are working on it. The software checks to see what files have been added or updated since the last backup, and only backs up those files. The software also encrypts your backups for your security and makes sure that the files can only be accessed from your computer or with your account.</p> <p>There are a number of online backup services to choose from. Some are easier to use than others, some give you more space than others, and some cost more than others. It is important to carefully review the features of each service before making a choice. Here are a few of the most popular online backup services and how they rate when compared against one another.</p> <h2>Mozy</h2> <p><a href="">Mozy</a> is possibly the most popular and well-known of online backup services. The service offers two different plans: MozyHome Free and MozyHome. Both programs are user friendly. After downloading the software on your computer, you can control almost every aspect of your online backups, including how often your computer backs up, when your backups start, and what folders or files are to be backed up. You can even control how fast the backups go! The faster the software handles the backups, the slower the rest of your computer runs, so this is an especially useful feature.</p> <p>Mozy is also very affordable. If you don't have much to backup, you can get 2GB of backup space completely free. MozyHome, on the other hand, offers you a truly unlimited amount of backup space, and costs only $4.95 a month.</p> <h2>IDrive</h2> <p><a href="">IDrive</a> is very similar to Mozy in that it has both a free 2GB plan (IDrive Basic), and a $4.95 per month plan (IDrive Pro). Instead of the paid plan offering unlimited storage space, however, you get 150GB &mdash; which may seem like a lot, but you may use it up faster than you might think.</p> <p>IDrive is a better service than Mozy in some ways, though, as many people find the software easier to use. Also, IDrive performs backups much faster than Mozy, so if speed is more important to you than the amount of space you get, you may want to check out IDrive.</p> <h2>Carbonite</h2> <p>Another popular online backup service is <a href="">Carbonite</a>. Although this one doesn't have a free plan, it does offer unlimited data storage for just $49.95 a year, which works out to be a little less per month than either Mozy or IDrive.</p> <p>If security is your top concern, Carbonite is probably the best online backup service to use, as it does the best job of encrypting your data to keep it safe. However, users report that the service is slower and the software more difficult to use, preventing Carbonite from being a top choice for many people.</p> <h2>Choosing a Service</h2> <p>There are many factors that go into choosing an online backup service. Security, speed, ease of use, storage space, and cost are all things you need to think about. Be sure to research several services before making your choice, checking reviews and comparisons, as well as each service's website, and considering what features are most important to you!</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Comparing Online Backup Services" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><div class="field field-type-text field-field-guestpost-blurb"> <div class="field-label">Guest Post Blurb:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>This is a guest post by Jason Kay. Jason has used online backup services to safeguard his home business data for over three years.</p> <ul> <li><a href="">Online Backup Service Reviews</a></li> <li><a href="">Review of Carbonite Backup Service</a></li> <li><a href="">Save 10% with a Carbonite Offer Code</a></li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Jason Kay</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="">Technology articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> General Tips Technology computers online services Mon, 06 Sep 2010 14:00:04 +0000 Jason Kay 227977 at Book Review: Network Know-How (Win a Copy!) <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/book-review-network-know-how-win-a-copy" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="154" height="204" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p class="MsoNormal">Most people think of computer networks as something that IT guys and the Geek Squad are best equipped to deal with.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>But did you know that any home with more than one computer or wireless device can benefit from knowing network basics? This essential guide for the accidental admin can keep your home and office efficient &ndash; and can save you money over hiring a professional.<o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal">I knew I was going to like this book, when it opened with a quote from Henry David Thoreau: &ldquo;We are in great haste to construct a magnetic telegraph from <st1:state w:st="on">Maine</st1:state> to <st1:state w:st="on">Texas</st1:state>: but <st1:state w:st="on">Maine</st1:state> and <st1:state w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Texas</st1:place></st1:state>, it may be, have nothing important to communicate.&rdquo;<span style="">&nbsp; </span>How true, and how fitting.<o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal">John Ross has experience with both the wired and wireless networks of such companies as Motorola and AT&amp;T, and yet he is exquisite at making networking knowledge something that even the simplest home office can easily apply.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>His advice is presented with clear language and effective graphics in this easy read from No Starch Press (the guys who brought us <a href="../../../../../../book-review-how-to-be-a-geek-goddess-win-a-copy">How to Be a Geek Goddess</a>.)<span style="">&nbsp; </span>You&rsquo;ll know right away if the book is for you: Did you plan on never needing to run a computer network, but have suddenly found yourself with more than one computer in your home or office?<o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal">The applications for the information are endless. Here are some examples of households that could use <i style=""><a href=";tag=wisebread03-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=1593271913">Network Know-How</a></i>:</p> <ul> <li><o:p></o:p>Homeschoolers with more than one computer in their classroom.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>(Even two kids with separate PC&rsquo;s will benefit from the file sharing applications.)</li> <li><o:p></o:p>Road warriors who are tired of the syncing process between their laptop and desktop.</li> <li><o:p></o:p>Anyone interested in home automation (the control of several appliances and electronics from one or more master remotes.&nbsp; Security systems and home entertainment centers are common candidates.)</li> <li><o:p></o:p>The thousands of us who have dealt (unsuccessfully) with a finicky router or other wireless device<o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></li> </ul> <p class="MsoNormal">The book starts out with some basic theory, which is surprisingly helpful when starting your home network.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>(When you can understand how your machines can work together, it makes for a much simpler application.)<span style="">&nbsp; </span>It continues with detailed directions on how to set up and configure all of your devices (shared printers, for example).<span style="">&nbsp; </span>It concludes with a complete troubleshooting guide (which alone is worth the price of the book.)<o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal">After reading <i style=""><a href=";tag=wisebread03-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=1593271913">Network Know-How</a></i>, I&rsquo;ve come to two conclusions:<o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <ol type="1" start="1" style="margin-top: 0in;"> <li style="" class="MsoNormal">Networking is going to be a reality for almost every home.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>If you don&rsquo;t know how to do it, you should learn.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>(And save yourself the cost of having a professional bill you by the hour.)</li> <li style="" class="MsoNormal">I really shouldn&rsquo;t have thrown out that Linksys router that was acting up.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>I now know the problem (and could have saved $60 by reading this first.)<o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></li> </ol> <p class="MsoNormal">While we would all like to think that setting up a wireless or wired network is as easy as &ldquo;plugging it in,&rdquo; you can get much more from your computer and peripherals by understanding all the options for the most efficient system.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>This guide can, at the very minimum, help you install a router without the often buggy software setup that many routers come with.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>With more involved applications, it can give you ultimate freedom (and security) with a well-designed and extensive home network.</p> <p>Want to give it a read?&nbsp; <a href="">No Starch Press</a> has 4 new copies of <i style=""><a href=";tag=wisebread03-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=1593271913">Network Know-How</a>: <a href=";tag=wisebread03-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=1593271913">An Essential Guide for the Accidental Admin</a></i> to send to a few lucky Wise Bread readers.&nbsp; <strong>To enter the giveaway, post a comment below by March 31st, 2009. <st1:country-region w:st="on">U.S.</st1:country-region> and <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Canada</st1:place></st1:country-region> only.&nbsp; Must be 18 or older to enter. </strong></p> <p><em>Wise Bread will not sell or use your email address for any purpose other than to contact the winner.</em>&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Book Review: Network Know-How (Win a Copy!)" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Linsey Knerl</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Giveaways Technology book review computers network Wed, 11 Mar 2009 21:41:35 +0000 Linsey Knerl 2918 at